Non-HR managers don’t know HR stuff. That’s not what they’re paid for and that’s not their area of expertise. Amid all the day-to-day chaos they’re dealing with they need a trusted partner to lean on when they do have those questions about culture, behaviors, or compliance. With a plate-full of tasks and deadlines they must have a steady resource to help them manage the humans around them.
It’s so funny, though, for years HR has been pounding the drum about strategy, data and influence, but I’ve discovered (or re-discovered) that decision makers sometimes just need our raw ability to relate to people. Instead of always being so deep, they just need someone to share ideas with when employees aren’t responding. Someone to teach them what they may or may not be able to say…or what to say when there’s a need for calm and reassurance. Non-HR managers still need HR advice and they need HR to be present.
In a perfect time and space, those we touch are learning from us and executing independently with occasional check-ins. What’s ideal is that they seek us out before there are problems. What’s even ideal-er is that HR is seeking out chances to engage our partners, identifying areas in which to teach and train, as they may not even realize the opportunities that lie in those issues.
HR (especially competent HR) offers a sense of security, like a blankie, to those that are tasked with making tough, daily decisions. It’s bad enough having to pull the triggers, but to do it with no guidance truly sucks. Actions are delayed and problems are often compounded when there’s no trusted HR partner available to brainstorm or consult with.
During a brief stint with a company that had a void in the HR leader position for quite some time, so many times I heard statements like, “It’s so good to have to you here!” in an instance where I’ve done nothing more than offer a few minutes of advice on how to deal with minor employee issues.
It’s those little things like time and presence that are forgotten when we map out our days. Giving our partners the gift of our time and presence, along with our expertise regarding people, go a long way in providing them the security and confidence they need to execute in their given areas of expertise. When they are free to execute in their space, we all win. When everyone is winning, HR has done its job.